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Hotel of the Saints Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 5, 2001
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Anyone who revels in the slow, gentle pace and cumulative power of Ursula Hegi's writing (Stones from the River) will delight in the 11 stories in Hotel of the Saints. In the title piece, a young Jesuit brother helps his aunt redecorate her hotel in a kitschy, irreverent celebration of the saints (the toilet seat in St. Sebastien's room is replaced with an old wooden one that pinches the user). In "Moonwalkers," a young man stands by his father's hospital bedside after his heart transplant, inwardly reviewing their troubled relationship while his father drifts into memorylike reverie of the 27-year-old woman whose donated heart beats inside him. "Lower Crossing" is about putting to sleep an elderly family dog--a friend, essentially, whose life is in the narrator's hands. Some of these stories seem underdeveloped, but all have an emotional force that eddies out from their often minor premises. These are lovely short works from one of America's best novelists. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Hegi (Stones from the River) is a literary photographer of the heart. Her first collection of short stories in a decade crosses the globe and the landscape of humans mired in their relationships to each other, themselves, and, in a wrenching tale almost too painful to read, to their dying pets. In the heartbreaking "The End of All Sadness," the narrator "spins" her abusive husband's savage behavior toward her and her daughter. In "Oregon," a son is tormented even as his difficult father's obsession with the young donor of his new heart fuels his recovery. Elsewhere, a Coeur d'Alene mother loses out in her campaign against her daughter's blind boyfriend, and a terminally ill German woman choreographs her death in Mexico on her own terms. Hegi's voice in these and the other seven stories is strong, varied, and beautiful. Readers of Hegi's highly regarded novels won't be disappointed, and one hopes another ten years won't slip by before she publishes another collection. Highly recommended.
- Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor District Lib., MI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The book is a collection of short stories, most of which have been previously published in other journals. However, the particular selection of stories holds together in great harmony as a compilation. Hegi has a talent for character development that rivals the greatest of short story writers. In her stories in this book, all between about 5 and 22 pages, Hegi shows an ability that is truly impressive with respect to her proficiency in conveying the character of her story so sensitively and completely.
Hegi makes no secret of her German origin or its particular effect on the characters in the book, many of whom are German. She has a pleasant style of using German words, but then immediately translating so no loss of meaning or understanding is felt by the reader. Except in her occasional use of German profanity or a very close cognate, Hegi always provides the user with the German word's translation and does not use the effect too much that it becomes irritating, only as much as she needs, in order to add the flavor she is trying to convey.
As one of the outstanding authors writing in America today this work is a fine example of what can be done with precision and imagination. This book is recommended to all lovers of fine and personal short stories.
The title story, Hotel of the Saints, is also a story about the liberation of a woman from the aura of her husband. In this case the young lead character, a student in a Catholic seminary, is assigned to watch after his aged and hyper-religious aunt after her husband dies. The character is accompanied by a friend who has just entered the priesthood. The lead character himself has doubts about his faith and vocation, but cannot make a decisive step either in or out of the Priesthood. In the weeks following the uncle's death, the widow sheds her hyper-religiosity and begins to decorate all of the rooms of the small hotel she owns with satirical and perhaps sac-religious images of the saints. The priest gets into the act, and both find it liberating. The priest and the widow seem to be saying, in effect, the religion is a set of rites and you can adjust and re-invent them as you need. The young lead character is put off. More significantly, he can't get into this spirit and free himself from the hang up which is keeping him stuck. So this is a NOT coming of age story. Both of these stories are modern masterpieces. The other stories in the book do not live up to their promise.
The final story 'Lowers crossing' is heartfelt and compassionate, 'Stolen chocolates' is for me about beauty and acceptance and the two stories 'the doves' and 'for their own survival' have similar themes of freedom. It is a wonderful collection and I feel I have allowed myself to be introduced to another author who I anticipate will inhabit my bookshelf for years to come.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is a collection of short stories that stand on their own, but only a couple had her usually...Read more